The Light in the Forest (1958)

Unrated  |   |  Adventure, Drama, Family  |  8 July 1958 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.7/10 from 354 users  
Reviews: 5 user | 2 critic

A young white man who spent his whole life raised by Native Americans is sent to live with his birth family and must learn to fit in with people he was taught to hate.


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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. See more awards »
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Complete credited cast:
Del Hardy
Wilse Owens
Milly Elder
Johnny Butler / True Son
Myra Butler
John Elder
Chief Cuyloga
Rafael Campos ...
Half Arrow
Harry Butler
Niskitoon (as Norman Frederic)
Kate Owens
Stephen Bekassy ...
Col. Henry Bouquet
Sam Buffington ...
George Owens


In 1764, the British come to an agreement with the native Delaware tribes in order to bring peace to the region.The Delaware tribes agree to stop their attacks on the white settlers and to relinquish all their white captives to the British.In return, the British promise to stop white settlers from settling on Delaware lands across the Ohio River and to cease slaughtering the natives.British Army scout Del Hardy,who once lived among the natives, serves as negotiator and translator for the British colonel Henry Bouquet. During the exchange phase, the Delaware tribes surrender their white captives to the British forces.Among the whites returning to civilization is Chief Cuyloga's adopted son, True Son, formerly known as Johnny Butler.With a heavy heart, Chief Cuyloga parts with his son and asks him to obey his white family once Johnny becomes a white man again.Despite his promise to obey his white parents and to integrate again into the white settler society,Johnny Butler has serious ... Written by nufs68

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


He was torn between his parents ... and the tribe that raised him. See more »


Unrated | See all certifications »

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Release Date:

8 July 1958 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Una luz en el bosque  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


| (TV)

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color telecast the film in two parts, on the 12th and on the 19th of November, 1961 as 'True Son' and 'True Son's Revenge'. See more »


In the dance scene, Milly wore a dress. Short sleeves on women's dresses didn't appear until the 1790s, three decades after this film. See more »


Hielan Laddie
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User Reviews

Strained considerably
22 June 2015 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

A couple of young players, James MacArthur and Carol Lynley, got their breakout roles in Walt Disney's The Light In The Forest. I saw this way back when I was a 10 year old kid, urged as I always was by the Disney publicity machine greatest in the world then. I doubt any kid who saw both the Disneyland TV show or the Mickey Mouse Club let their parents alone until they saw this or any number of other Disney products.

Seeing it almost 60 years later and knowing now what I know of the source of this film, Conrad Richter's novel a whole lot had to be strained out in order to make this G rated entertainment. The Paxton Boys that are headed by Pastor John McIntire were quite real and as murderous a gang of thugs on the frontier as you would find. There is the Conestoga massacre eluded to in the film. That was quite a real incident where many Delawares were slaughtered without reason or provocation, a colonial era Sand Creek. McIntire's character John Elder though had a certain plausible deniability in the affair.

Stephen Bekassy's character General Henry Bouquet is also real, he pops up in the Cecil B. DeMille epic Unconquered. The rest is Richter's tale of a young white captive returned to his people by terms of a treaty with Chief Joseph Calleia. MacArthur goes back and accompanying him is scout Fess Parker who kind of eases him into acceptance by his long lost parents Frank Ferguson and Jessica Tandy and others.

One who doesn't accept him is Wendell Corey who is a swaggering Indian hating bully. Corey could play some truly hateful people on the big and small screen and he's one of the worst. The climax is the showdown between MacArthur and Corey and I will say viewing it now, what happens makes no sense.

Carol Lynley plays a young indentured servant bound to Corey and this is a topic I see rarely discussed. In order to obtain passage from Great Britain one could bind one self over into essential slavery for a period of seven years. Corey who's a cad besides everything else is real interested in Lynley for other than house work. Fess Parker has also a love interest in McIntire's daughter Joanne Dru.

Maybe one day we'll get a more true to the book adaption of this story. But The Light In The Forest is a decent Disney film that served its cast well.

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